Theresa May’s pitch of broad-based British patriotism will have appeal, including the swipe at ” divisive nationalists.”

Theresa May has given part of the answer to Mick, they’ll both be glad to hear.

Richard Wynne Jones, a highly respected friend , has an important part of the story. We Celts ( if I can call us that), are still more programmed for identity politics than the English. See also Fintan O’Toole.  But we should remember that while  the big dog of English nationalism  has growled a  bit, it hasn’t yet bitten us, its smaller neighbours. Quite the contrary as far as fair shares are concerned – unless you’re Welsh.

From Richard’s survey it strikes me that the proportions of “English rather than  British”, regarded as a key indicator of nationalism  are comparatively small. No doubt there is  potential  for growth.  The small Conservative majority in the Commons has not yet risen to the bait of 50- odd SNP MPs.   The referendum campaign  overshadowed  Evel  for the moment at least.  Brexit may indeed strengthen it as argued by former Labour minister John Denham who heads the Centre for English Identity and Politics. The Northern Powerhouse idea is not yet very developed nor very popular.  A new generation of elected mayors with more powers may prove more successful than the first tranche.

So what had  Theresa  to say about all this?  A new Leader’s first major speech has to impart a vision of national unity  Early metro- comment has generally ignored this, being  fixed on her re-positioning at traditional Labour’s and Ukip’s expense.  In advance she skewered them:

Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public. They find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal, your attachment to your job security inconvenient.

In this speech, Theresa May  hung her hat on a version of the referendum verdict designed to appeal  to what she uncomfortably  called “ ordinary working people.” It sounded pretty effective to me.

…in June people voted for change. And a change is going to come.

Change has got to come because as we leave the European Union and take control of our own destiny, the task of tackling some of Britain’s long-standing challenges – like how to train enough people to do the jobs of the future – becomes ever more urgent.

But change has got to come too because of the quiet revolution that took place in our country just three months ago – a revolution in which millions of our fellow citizens stood up and said they were not prepared to be ignored anymore.

Because this is a turning point for our country.

A once-in-a-generation chance to change the direction of our nation for good.

To step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.

For the referendum was not just a vote to withdraw from the EU. It was about something broader – something that the European Union had come to represent.

It was about a sense – deep, profound and let’s face it often justified – that many people have today that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them.

It was a vote not just to change Britain’s relationship with the European Union, but to call for a change in the way our country works – and the people for whom it works – forever.

Knock on almost any door in almost any part of the country, and you will find the roots of the revolution laid bare…..

Our democracy should work for everyone, but if you’ve been trying to say things need to change for years and your complaints fall on deaf ears, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.

And the roots of the revolution run deep. Because it wasn’t the wealthy who made the biggest sacrifices after the financial crash, but ordinary, working class families.

And if you’re one of those people who lost their job, who stayed in work but on reduced hours, took a pay cut as household bills rocketed, or – and I know a lot of people don’t like to admit this – someone who finds themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration, life simply doesn’t seem fair.

It feels like your dreams have been sacrificed in the service of others.

So change has got to come.

Because if we don’t respond – if we don’t take this opportunity to deliver the change people want – resentments will grow. Divisions will become entrenched.

And that would be a disaster for Britain.

Because the lesson of Britain is that we are a country built on the bonds of family, community, citizenship.

Of strong institutions and a strong society.

The country of my parents who instilled in me a sense of public service and of public servants everywhere who want to give something back.

The parent who works hard all week but takes time out to coach the kids football team at the weekend.

The local family business in my constituency that’s been serving the community for more than 50 years.

The servicemen and women I met last week who wear their uniform proudly at home and serve our nation with honour abroad.

A country of decency, fairness and quiet resolve.

And a successful country – small in size but large in stature – that with less than 1% of the world’s population boasts more Nobel Laureates than any country outside the United States… with three more added again just yesterday – two of whom worked here in this great city.

A country that boasts three of the top ten universities in the world. The world’s leading financial capital. And institutions like the NHS and BBC whose reputations echo in some of the farthest corners of the globe.

All possible because we are one United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and I will always fight to preserve our proud, historic Union and will never let divisive nationalists drive us apart.

Yet within our society today, we see division and unfairness all around. Between a more prosperous older generation and a struggling younger generation. Between the wealth of London and the rest of the country.

But perhaps most of all, between the rich, the successful and the powerful – and their fellow citizens.

Now don’t get me wrong. We applaud success. We want people to get on.

But we also value something else: the spirit of citizenship.

They find the fact that more than seventeen million voters decided to leave the European Union simply bewildering.

But a change has got to come. It’s time to remember the good that government can do.

Time for a new approach that says while government does not have all the answers, government can and should be a force for good..

This is conference rhetoric, to be sure.  But it does not bang the drum of English nationalism.  The traditional self image of British fair play and social justice is invoked.  She did not reveal  any sensitivity whatsoever towards those pesky nationalists. That could cause trouble in the future. For now she leans towards calling  Nicola’s bluff. But calling bluff is not appropriate for the problem of the Irish border.  While the tone will sometimes grate, essential post- GFA  courtesies will be observed. There will be no  return to reflexive identification with Ulster Unionism, even for tight votes in the Commons.

In the end she pins her faith on fine tuning ideas of fairness during austerity and her hopes on growing prosperity.

And she’s right. If she fails over Brexit and the rest:

“– if we don’t take this opportunity to deliver the change people want – resentments will grow. Divisions will become entrenched.

Over to  Nicola, the swivelled-eyed English nationalists  and God knows who in Ireland.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

  • Anglo-Irish

    The idea that the religious authorities only inform people of their moral responsibilities is an incredible claim.

    First of all they insist on all sorts of rules which have nothing whatsoever to do with morals.

    Dietary rulings being a case in point, Jews can’t eat pork or shellfish, Muslims can’t eat pork or drink alcohol, Christians can’t eat certain foods on certain occasions and certain branches of Christianity don’t allow tea or coffee etc.

    Secondly, how many religions can you name that are not in some way shape or form misogynist?

    In many old religions women were the ones regarded as being special in that they were the ones who produced new life. The later religions certainly put a stop to that didn’t they?

    Your comment on the killing of innocents is totally ridiculous.

    As someone who ( whilst not denying the possibility of the existence of a Creator ) does not believe in an afterlife I have far more reason to believe that the killing of an innocent is wrong than a believer does.

    I believe that there is no afterlife, and therefore all that we have is here and now, our lives are everything to us, there is nothing else.

    Therefore taking someones life is robbing them of everything, their existence, their memories and their being.

    To a theist killing an innocent is sending them to ‘ a better place ‘ reuniting them with their loved ones who have gone before.

    Don’t even attempt to claim that the religious have some higher moral values than decent non religious people.

    Have you any idea how many people have been killed and the killings ‘justified’ by some religion or other?

    Ever heard the expression ” Kill them all and let God sort them out ” ?

  • Hugh Davison

    We haven’t even started:
    Strongbow (de Clare) came from Wales with a bunch of Welsh retainers, giving rise to the prevalence of the names Walsh and Breathnach in Ireland. He married McMurrough’s daughter Eva, or Aoife, and laid claim to McMurrough’s kingdom of Leinster, much to the annoyance of the McMurrough heir, Cavanagh. The daughter of the marriage, Isobel, married William Marshall, the ‘most perfect knight’, who inherited much land in Carlow, Wexford and Kilkenny to add to his extensive English estates.
    Yadda yadda. The first Normans came from Wales. Henry II got a bit anxious about the possibility of a rival Norman kingdom in Ireland so sent a second invasion of (Anglo-)Normans to put things in order (with the approval of the above-mentioned Adrian IV).
    And the rest is history. The Cavanaghs are still in Borris Co. Carlow.

  • Hugh Davison

    Why not cut the Almighty out of it? To me the old posters outside the chapels say it: ‘God is Love’.
    When we love our fellow human we are in the presence of God. When we don’t we are in Hell. Is that too simplistic, or what?

  • Hugh Davison

    ‘land grabs’ sounds good. Defence less so, unless from the principle of ‘What we have we hold’.

  • Hugh Davison

    How was the EU to blame for this depressed area?

  • John Collins

    Well the Americans were fight anyway to kick both their asses out of their continent. Although in fairness the Spanish invaded America before either of them.

  • John Collins

    I usually agree with you but however bad the church was for the poor and ignorant, what followed in England after the Reformation was ten times worse. Linda Colley in her acclaimed work BRITONS, describes the efforts of Thomas Conram, a philanthropist, who sought the help the help of Anglican Bishops to help raise funds to alleviate the awful neglect that waifs and straying abandoned children were experiencing in mainland British cities. He said those spiritual lords would ‘rather go bare arsed at Court that raise a finger to help those waifs’.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well, I also tend to agree with you John, and truth be told we’re not too far apart on this one.

    Some incredibly devoted people – of all faiths – inspired by their devotion to their God and their compassion toward their fellow human beings have been responsible for alleviating the suffering of millions.

    My scepticism toward religion tends to be mainly aimed at the leaders, those who are in charge of the various Faiths.

    Expediency and profit tend to take precedence over love of your fellow man at that stage of proceedings.

    Maintaining the reputation and viability of the organization becomes more important than people when ‘the big picture’ is taken into consideration.

    I am also somewhat cynical as to the ‘ brainwashing ‘ that is often required in order for the provision of the succour.

    As ever there tends to be no completely definitive answer.

    My opinion of the OO is quite harsh, but there is a thread on a member who has passed away who by all accounts was a good man.

    Very few things in life are black and white, shades of grey are everywhere.